Regardless of your hair type, when it comes to healthy, moisturized hair, water is always your friend. That’s unless that water is found in an ocean or pool; then things get a bit more complicated. Both salt water (oceans) and chlorine (pools) can leave your hair dry, brittle, faded and damaged, if left unprotected. People with fine, dyed or chemically treated hair are especially vulnerable to chlorine damage. So before you take that dip, check out a few ways you can protect your hair from the effects of salt water and chlorine.
Wear a Cap – Although it may not be the most fashionable way to lounge poolside, you can’t deny the power a swim cap has to protect your hair from getting wet. And since swim caps come in a large variety of styles and colors, it’s easy to find one to match any swimsuit.
Hold Your Head High – If wearing a swim cap sounds as unappealing as I think it does, you can keep your hair protected simply by keeping it out of the water. I suggest wearing your hair in a french braid, high ponytail or a bun.
Wash and Go – Wet your hair thoroughly with fresh water before getting into chlorinated or salt water. Because fresh water causes your hair strands to swell, your hair is less likely to absorb the water from the pool or ocean.
Condition, Condition, Condition – We all know the benefits of conditioning our hair after washing it; well, the same benefits apply when conditioning our hair before going swimming. Saturating your hair with a wash-out or leave-in conditioner prevents chlorinated and salt water from being absorbed into your hair strands, and allows your hair to retain its moisture. Besides conditioner, you can also coat your hair with a natural oil, such as coconut or extra virgin olive oil.
Preventive measures are all well and good, but if your hair has already been damaged or discolored because of chlorinated or salt water, there are four steps you should take to repair the damage.
Rinse – If chlorine has turned your hair green or left behind an odor, turn to your pantry for help. Before washing your hair, rinse your hair thoroughly with tomato juice, club soda, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. You can also dissolve four aspirins or 2 tsp. of baking soda in about 3 cups of warm water, and rinse your hair with that. Not only will these rinses restore your natural hair color, they’ll also get rid of the chlorine smell.
Clarify – Wash your hair with a clarifying or chlorine removal shampoo. Regular shampoos aren’t formulated to remove chlorine buildup, so use a shampoo like Ultra Swim Chlorine Removal Shampoo or Tresemme Deep Cleansing Shampoo to release the chlorine molecules trapped in your hair.
Moisturize – Since salt water and chlorine are extremely drying to hair, you definitely want to restore some of that moisture by conditioning your hair with a regular conditioner, deep conditioner or hair mayonnaise. I recommend Ultra Swim Ultra Repair Conditioner, which is specially formulated to repair and nourish chlorine-damaged hair. Just saturate your hair with conditioner, and leave it on for about 10 to 30 minutes. Rinse hair clean with cool water, then apply a leave-in conditioner.
Seal – Once you’ve restored moisture to your hair, coat your hair with your favorite natural oil to seal the moisture in.
Keep in mind that a short time in the ocean or pool isn’t likely to cause any real damage to your hair. Chlorine damage generally only occurs when you’re exposed to chlorinated or salt water regularly, or for a prolonged period of time.